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such manner as the commissioners shall direct. The first payment to be due three months after the passing of this act; but in no case is the annual assessment to exceed on any one charity the sum of 501.
The 20th section provides a penalty for the non-payment of this assessment, and if there be any annual surplus of the fund to be raised under this act, it is to be invested in government securities in the name of the commissioners.
The accounts are to be audited and passed annually. By the 25th and 26th sections, in case any proceedings against any charity should be instituted by any person, except the attorneygeneral, notice of the same must be given to the commissioners, who may, if they think proper, suspend or prohibit any proceedings; and by the 27th section the courts are prohibited from entertaining any proceedings as to charities, without the production of the certificate of the commissioners, except when the attorney-general proceeds ex officio.
Proceedings already commenced and pending are not to be affected by this act.
The 29th section states the cases in which application may be made to a master in chancery by state of facts, where the income of the charity is more than 30, and less than 1007. a year. The state of facts must be verified by affidavit, when the master shall proceed to make such orders as are now made by the court.
By the 38th section the county courts are to have jurisdiction in cases where the income of the charity does not exceed 307. But the commissioners may direct cases, within the jurisdiction of the county courts, to be taken before a superior court in the first instance; and any order made by a county court judge must be confirmed by the commissioners. An appeal lies by petition to the Court of Chancery within three months, and the 49th section provides, that no master in chancery, or judge of the county court, shall, upon any proceedings under this act, have jurisdiction to try or determine the title at law or equity to any real or personal property, as between any charity or the trustee thereof and any person holding or claiming such real or personal property adversely to such charity; or to determine any question as to the existence or extent of any charge or trust.
By the 51st and 52nd sections, land holden upon trust for a charity, subject to the jurisdiction of a judge of the county court, when the income is less than 301. may be vested by order, and without any conveyance or assignment thereof, in the charity commissioners, who are however to be bare trustees; and no
such vesting order is to be made, in the case of corporations, without the consent of such corporation, or, in copyhold hereditaments, without the consent of the lord or lady of the manor.
The 55th section enacts, that every application to the Court of Chancery, or to any master in chancery or judge of a county court, under the jurisdiction created or confirmed by this act, may be made by her majesty's attorney-general, or by all or any of the trustees, or persons administering the charity, or by any person or persons claiming to administer the charity, or any two or more inhabitants of any parish or place within which the charity shall be administered, or be applicable.
The 58th section is important, for by it the trustees of any charity must deliver every year to the clerk of the county court a correct statement of income and revenues, and a correct balance-sheet, a duplicate of which is to be sent to the commissioners, who must also have their accounts audited from time to time, and make an annual report of their proceedings to parliament.
Many sections of the act are taken up with the subjects of the exchange of charity lands, redeeming rent charges, notice of death of trustees, granting building leases, working mines, doing repairs, compromising claims, &c. &c.; and the 73rd section gives power to unite charities of a similar nature, due regard being had to the objects and intentions of the founders of such charities respectively.
We make no apology for thus setting out at length the provisions of this Bill, for it embraces a subject of great importance and almost universal interest; scarcely any district, town, or even village being unaffected by it. Its objects may be shortly stated to be,
1st, to provide a body conversant with the subject, to whom trustees of charities may resort for information; and whose directions, if followed, will be a guarantee to such trustees against responsibility.
2nd, to provide cheaper tribunals for charities under 1001. a year.
3rd, to enable commissioners to certify cases to the attorneygeneral as fit for proceedings.
4th, to stop the present relator suits, which are generally instituted by hungry attornies for costs.
5th, to institute a cheap, and readily accessible tribunal, in which all matters relating to the management and revenue of these charities may be inquired into and redressed. But by far the most important improvement seems to us to be the provision, that the amount of receipts and disbursements
of the trustees of charities shall be annually delivered to the clerks of the county court of the district in which the charities are situated, which accounts are to be registered, and open to inspection at all reasonable hours, on payment of a shilling.
There is besides, the additional guarantee of the report which the commissioners are obliged annually to make to parliament, and the accounts which they also must send in. Publicity is all that is required; public opinion and the press will soon correct whatever is wrong. We live in a state of society, in which intelligence is so rapidly diffused by means of the Post Office and the press, that no gross act, either of oppression or peculation, can be committed in any part of England, without being in a few hours known to and discussed by millions.
The Bill, as it at present stands, deals with permanently endowed charities only, and none of its provisions extend to charities wholly supported by voluntary contributions. The Bill will doubtless meet with opposition on the part of the great London Companies, whose plea for exemption, uttered in the House of Lords by Lord Stanley, (who however expressed himself strongly in favour of the Bill,) was supported by no proof that their charities are immaculate, and do not require, as in the case we have cited of " Howell's Charity," belonging to the Drapers' Company, the most searching inquiry. We have considered the Bill carefully, and cannot see that any fair objection can be raised against it. No one will now deny the abuses and mismanagement which have gradually crept into almost all charities of ancient date. That they exist is undeniable-admit their existence, and also the fact that the funds and management of these institutions have been left hitherto unchecked in the hands of the trustees, and no further plea for this Bill is necessary. Its power will only be felt when it is needed; it will be a terror to the sinner, and an assistance to the conscientious; and lastly, it will not interfere with, or contravene, the wishes and intentions of the beneficent founders of charities, but simply take care that they shall be duly fulfilled.
ART. VII. THE BILL FOR THE BETTER ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN THE COURT OF CHANCERY, AND IN THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE of the PRIVY COUNCIL.
E have still to regret the extremely inadequate measures proposed by the Government for the reform in the Court of Chancery. Since we last reviewed the prospect of legislation in this direction,1 two great advantages have been gained. The inconsiderate propositions then before the House of Commons have been withdrawn; and instead of an act which would practically have insured the subtraction of one-third of our judicial force in equity (since under the proposed scheme the Master of the Rolls would never have been found in his own court), we have had our judicial force augmented by the appointment of Sir G. J. Turner to the Vice-Chancellorship, to the great satisfaction of suitors generally, and not a little to the credit of Lord John Russell for having selected a political opponent for advancement. Instead of only two Vice-Chancellors, therefore, as was threatened, and a Master of the Rolls sitting as Lord Chancellor, we have three Vice-Chancellors and a Master of the Rolls, with the Lord Chancellor as before. So that our inferior tribunals have double the judicial force which was anticipated, and the tribunal of appeal is no worse-for in the Court of Chancery, although complaints are still rife upon the subject of arrears, yet the Lord Chancellor, by his unwearying attention and inexhaustible urbanity, by his indomitable industry in mastering details, and his undeniable "pluck" and independence of spirit, has conquered the "situation," and bids fair to be as popular a chancellor as he deserves to be. If he do not always command success, he always strives to deserve it. There are arrears, but the chancellor does, as he always has done, his best-and his best now is a very different thing from what it was twelve months ago.
The change, then, in the prospects of the Chancery Courts, as far as their present position goes, is entirely favourable. As regards the prospect of permanent improvement for the future, it is as bad or worse than ever. Indeed, we almost feel inclined to wish that the original bill of March last had been allowed to go on. It would very speedily have brought matters to a crisis. The late hot weather would have done it. With two
1 See Law Mag. for last May, Art. VII.
2 Introduced 27th March, Hans. Parl. Deb.
Bill for Better Administration of Justice in Chancery, &c. 111 Vice-Chancellors to do all the original hearings, and bankruptcy and petition business, and a Master of the Rolls thrust in the first week of his judicial existence to hear the appeals, the whole machine would very soon have come to a dead lock. And as when matters are at the worst they begin to mend, we might then have had some rude blows, by which the Great Seal might have been broken-splintered, we believe is the phrase; until which event takes place, chancery reformers never will be at rest, nor will any government have quiet. For, as has been urged and acknowledged over and over again, it is by the admission of every Lord Chancellor since the time of Lord Eldon IMPOSSIBLE to find one man who can duly fulfil all the multifarious duties of that office. To regret the necessity of separating these functions, therefore, and of providing more than one man to do that work which no single individual can accomplish-and live-is as weak and childish as it would be to lament that there are but twenty-four hours in the day.' What is it that these self-styled guardians of the chancellorship lament? Is it the unfitness of any individuals now-a-days to perform high judicial functions? But there are abundance of men whose learning, uprightness and industry qualify them for any office. At any rate, there are as many men as would be required. Do they lament with Mr. Canning the withdrawal of the grand prize from the ambition of the bar? But we propose, according to Lord Langdale's plan, or a plan somewhat similar, to have three prizes instead of one. Will they tell us with a groan that "there were giants on the earth in those days," and deplore the degeneracy of modern lawyers? Then we beg of them, even on their own statements, not to place on the shoulders of one degenerate modern a load two or three times as great as what made their sturdiest giant stagger. Their favourite "giant," we suppose, would be Lord Eldon; and we must be allowed to remind them that he was considered quite incompetent to perform the whole task he undertook, and so perseveringly clung to. Nor was this disparaging estimate entertained by ignorant innovators or political opponents alone. The Select Committee of the House of Lords, appointed in 1823 to examine into the delays, &c., in the Court of Chancery, reported unanimously that "there was at that time A MANIFEST IMPOSSIBILITY that any person holding the Great Seal could find time for the performance of all the duties of his high office." They did not indeed proceed explicitly to declare that those
"Unless your lordships can add to the twenty-four hours, it is impossible that any one individual can perform the duties already imposed on the Great Seal."-Lord Cottenham, 1836, Parl. Deb.